3 Tools to Help Entrepreneurs Generate Fresh Ideas

By Jamillah Warner Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When it comes to creativity, there seems to be a box that everybody is trying to get outside of. We’ve heard — and in some cases used — these phrases so often that they have become clichés:

  • “Color outside the lines.”
  • “Think outside the box.”
  • “Be innovative and creative.”

In reality, creativity matters, but having a little fun goes a lot further than hurling the words “creative” and “innovation” at people. In fact, a bit of strange behavior off the clock can go a long way in expanding your mind, shaking up your perception and awakening that dormant idea that just needs a little nudge — from you.

Clusters and Mind Maps

Dr. Gabrielle Rico calls it clusters. Tony Buzan calls it mind mapping. It’s the idea of getting both sides of your brain to have a conversation, and the connections that show up after they have a talk.

In Writing The Natural Way, Dr. Rico highlighted the scientific differences between the two sides of the brain. She calls the right hemisphere — the part we tend to leave at home when we come to work — the “design mind” specializing in the more artistic qualities of feeling, creation, connecting, and making associations between things. Dr. Rico refers to the left hemisphere as the “sign mind” and it tends to analyze, refine, correct and critique. The left hemisphere qualities are highly praised in the workplace, but it’s the bridge between the two that results in effective creativity. For the LifeHack Blog, Dustin Wax in Rico Clusters: An Alternative To Mind Mapping, explains how to cluster and get both sides of your brain working together. But clustering is not the only way to generate fresh ideas.

Dance Breaks, Horseback Riding And Other Random Acts

Sometimes the best thing you can do for innovation’s sake is to go into your office in the middle of a busy day — especially if they are always busy. Shut the door for 3 minutes. Close the blinds for privacy. Put your headset in your ear and just dance to your favorite song. You can find 3 minutes for every phone call: you can find 3 minutes for a quick break.

When you do things to mix up your normal flow, you also shake up your normal connections.

Here’s the assignment, enjoy your family this weekend. Do some of the things on your bucket list — horseback riding, random acts of kindness, etc. Have a big and deep laugh. And encourage your team to do the same, and then spice up your training. At the next staff meeting teach your team how to cluster, because you don’t want to be the only creative person in the mix.

Irrelevant Conferences With Minimal Contact To The Outside World

Since you’re the boss, spice up your conference experience. Even if you are not the boss, pay to learn some things outside of that box that we mentioned earlier.

Sign yourself up for training in a completely unrelated-but-interesting-to-you industry. And then go — guilt free.

Ideas need their own space to dance around. If you’re trying to keep them locked up in an office, then they cannot grow. and they can only go where you take them. So it’s time to hit the road, meet new people and learn new things.

Creativity is a strange bird and to keep up with her you have to dance a little, cluster a lot and sometimes be a bit irrelevant on purpose. If you do this off the clock, both sides of your brain will work better on the clock.

More By Jamillah Warner
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